Tesla touts that its innovative Solar Roof can be installed at a cost comparable to that of a new composite shingle roof plus your electric bill. But are there hidden costs to consider? For example, can Tesla install its Solar Roof with your existing gutters? If not, what are your options?
Although it is possible to install a Tesla Solar Roof without replacing existing gutters, most installations require the gutters to be replaced. Tesla no longer includes the cost of gutter replacement in their price quotes. Instead, Tesla recommends third party contractors to perform the work.
If you are thinking about getting a Tesla Solar Roof, at this point, you are probably wondering why and how you need to go about replacing your gutters. This article has the answer for you. Read on to find out important points to consider when it comes to Tesla Solar Roof gutters.
Why Tesla Solar Roofs Typically Require New Gutters
In 2016, Elon Musk announced the introduction of the Tesla Solar Roof from Tesla subsidiary SolarCity. True to form, Tesla’s new product was innovative — replacing traditional bulky and unsightly solar panels that sit atop a roof with solar tiles that are integrated into the structure of the roof itself.
Tesla Solar Roofs comprise tile shingles that mimic the look of slate roofs. Some of these tiles contain solar cells to collect and produce solar power. Some tiles simply serve the traditional purpose of protecting the house.
Compared to traditional roofing tiles, the Tesla Solar Roof tiles are three times stronger and half the weight of traditional roofing tiles. However, as opposed to traditional shingle roofs, Tesla Solar Roof tiles:
- Are made of tempered glass
- Provide a much slicker surface
- Are about 1.5 inches thicker
The combined effect of these differences is that fast-moving water that is shed from Tesla Solar Roofs can overshoot and overwhelm traditional 4 to 5-inch gutters.
How to Replace Your Gutters When Installing a Tesla Solar Roof
It is a good idea not to replace your existing gutters until after the Tesla Solar Roof has been installed. There is a possibility that gutters may need to be removed to complete the roof installation. Tesla will remove your gutters in such cases, but it is your responsibility to put them back or replace them.
In fact, if you can go without gutters for a period of time, removing the old gutters before installing the Tesla Solar Roof can make their work cleaner and easier.
When choosing replacement gutters to accompany your Tesla Solar Roof, the following selection criteria are recommended.
Six-Inch Width and K-Style Gutters
Although it may not seem like much of an upgrade, 6-inch gutters actually handle 40% more water than their 5-inch counterparts. They also help capture water projected further out from the roof due to the faster runoff from tempered glass solar tiles.
Gutters also commonly come in two shapes — the k-style gutter and the half-round gutter. K-style gutters are not shaped like a “k” but instead have a curved front that resembles crown molding. A k-style gutter can take on nearly double the amount of water as a half-round gutter the same width. Overall, these gutters take far more water.
Downspout Size and Numbers
Obviously, larger-sized downspouts can drain more water more quickly than smaller sizes. And even if you have the right size gutter and downspout, too few downspouts will limit your drainage capacity.
- For a 6-inch k-style gutter, a 3-inch by 4-inch downspout is recommended.
- Experts recommend a downspout for about every 35 feet of gutter.
Keep this information in mind when adding gutters, and make sure to ask your installer about their own recommendations.
Pitch, Tilt, and Position
Gutters should not be level, but too much of an angle can also be a problem when handling large volumes of fast-flowing water. Aim for a ¼ inch slope toward the downspouts for every 10 feet of gutter.
Gutters should not tilt away from the house, as this can contribute to overflow problems. Instead, gutters should be positioned so that their front edges are below the plane of the roofline.
Certain gutter guard systems work by attaching to roofs and are likely to be incompatible with the Tesla Solar Roof. Grate style gutter guards and the like are therefore preferred.
Although Tesla no longer includes the cost of gutter replacement in their price quotes, they do provide recommendations for third party contractors.
However, even if you have a good local contractor in mind, it is worth getting a quote from Tesla’s recommended contractor since they are guaranteed to be familiar working with Tesla Solar Roofs.
When planning the replacement of your gutter system, consider it a bonus that you will gain easy access to fascia and soffits that are normally obscured.
Since you will have the chance, factor in some time to paint behind where the old gutters and downspouts were. Doing this will protect your home, and you may very well thank yourself later.
How Much Will It Cost?
First, as noted above, Tesla contends that its Solar Roof can be installed at a cost comparable to that of a new composite shingle roof plus your electric bill. Does that claim hold up?
The truth is, a Tesla Solar Roof is cheaper per watt than a conventional solar system. However, because it involves a total roof replacement, the overall cost is obviously much more expensive. That is why Tesla draws a comparison with replacing your roof with conventional composite shingles.
So if you do not otherwise need to replace your roof, a traditional solar system may make more sense for you. However, is that still true when you throw the gutters into the equation?
If you find yourself needing a new roof at the same time that you are also considering a switch to solar, a Tesla Solar Roof might appear to save you a little money:
|2,000 Square Foot Home|
7.8 kW System
$200 Monthly Electric Bill
|Tesla Solar Roof:|
Active solar tiles = $15,636.27
Inactive shingles = $9,891.45
Federal tax credit = -$3,983.34
Total cost = $21,544.38
|Replace Shingle Roof & Add Solar Panels:|
Asphalt shingles = $7,000
Solar panel system = $20,592
Federal tax credit = -$4,942.08
Total cost = $22,649.92
As you can see, the Tesla Solar Roof would appear to save you $1,150.54 compared to replacing a conventional roof and installing a comparable solar panel system.
However, this comparison does not take into account the cost of replacing your gutters. For a 2,000 square foot house, the cost of replacing your gutters with the recommended 6-inch gutter system is approximately $1,000 to $1,500.
Thus, while the cost of installing a Tesla Solar Roof may not be comparable to a new conventional shingle roof plus your electric bill, when factoring in the cost of recommended gutter replacements, the cost is comparable to a new conventional shingle roof plus a conventional solar panel system.
Most Tesla Solar Roof installations require gutters to be replaced to accommodate faster and higher volume runoff from the slicker surface and higher profile of Tesla Solar Roof tiles. Important aspects of the new gutter system include gutter width, gutter shape, downspout size, downspout numbers, pitch, tilt, positioning, and gutter guards.
When considering a Tesla Solar Roof, keep the gutters in mind. The cost of new gutters, especially if you do not need a new roof, might be another factor in your decision.